It’s 2019! Time for New Year, New YOU! Or if you’re like me, “New Year, Overly-Ambitious YOU!” One common resolution people make – that I’ve made MANY times – is to overhaul their diet. Some people instantly throw out all junk food, start eating kale every day, and create world peace. I have never been that person. I’ve tried kale; I am not a fan.
That overly-ambitious side of me kicked in last year, and I got the bright idea to try Whole30! After consulting my usual source for important decisions – Facebook – I swore off all the food that the Whole30 site forbids, and pledged my fealty to vegetables. Friends promised me that they felt amazing. I was ready to change my whole life! I could do anything for ONLY 30 days, right? Right?
For the full rules of the diet, consult the Whole30 website. In a nutshell, eliminate processed food along with a few other, strange categories – legumes??? Beans are bad for you??? – and emphasize vegetables and protein. I bought a bunch of healthy food, focusing on vegetables, feeling confident that I’d actually cook them all before they went bad for once.
So, here are the positive and negative effects I experienced.
- I stopped using honey in my daily hot tea. Once my palate adjusted, I found that I LOVE tea with no sweetener! Now I only have honey in tea as a treat.
- Though I thought I would DIE without cheese, it turns out, food is just fine without cheese if it’s seasoned nicely.
- I improved my posture. This was not a direct benefit of Whole30. You’re told to take “before” photos of yourself at the start. In a side shot of myself in a bikini, I was alarmed at how far forward I was thrusting my hips. Elvis would have blushed. I still don’t have perfect posture, but I correct it whenever I notice.
- Whole30 actually forbids weighing yourself EXCEPT at the very start and end of the challenge, and that’s only to give you a numerical measurement of the change you make to your body. They say that’s because your main goal is to change your eating habits. This is the best thing about Whole30.
- I craved sugar desperately. I admit, I have a sweet tooth, but I’m usually able to control it.
- I felt hungry ALL. THE. TIME. Friends recommend filling up on healthy veggies, but even that relief was short-lived for me.
- I kept waiting for the magical “tiger blood” that everyone talks about to kick in, but it never happened.
- The diet is not just restrictive – it borders on self-abuse. If you “cheat” or mess up, you’re told to start all over again from the beginning. On an older version of the site, they practically shamed you into eating better “Don’t you dare tell us this is hard…Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard.” This both made sense to me and annoyed me. Dieting IS hard, for many people, myself included. Modern life has made it SO easy to make poor food choices, your family and friends will unintentionally (or sometimes intentionally) make you feel bad for eating better, and have the Whole30 folks even tasted MegaStuff Oreos? They are the MegaStuff of dreams. I’m happy to say that they’ve since updated their philosophy to say that yes, they know it is, in fact, difficult to follow.
- I only lasted 24 days before falling face-first into a pile of quesadillas and ice cream. (Stupid two-for-one appetizer specials.) People ask me why I didn’t push forward just six more days, but honestly, I was hungry and unhappy. I’d slimmed down a bit, but since I don’t have a lot of weight to lose, there wasn’t a lot of incentive to staying on the diet. I struggle with hypothyroidism (that’s a whole other blog), so I have to be gentle with my body, and yeah, sometimes that means eating rice so I feel full enough to not be miserable.
Would I do Whole 30 again? Maybe. I think about doing it again all the time, but since you have to eat a lot more veggies and specialty ingredients, the diet can be expensive. For now, I try to eat as healthfully as possible – veggies, whole grains, lean meats. That is my recommendation for most people. Know what you want to accomplish and why Whole30 is not a magic pill. It’s a diet. And if you fall victim to quesadillas, you’re still an okay person.
Writer Bio: Amy Tallmadge lives in the Atlanta, Georgia area, with her husband, her two cats, and multiple incomplete craft projects. She is originally from Saskatchewan, Canada, and frequently works as an actress, voice over artist, audiobook narrator, and other fun creative things.